4G and LTE has in the last year or so being promoted as a possible solution to rural broadband coverage, and for some communities it may provide a good short to medium term solution. One of the major problems with 3G mobile broadband has been the cost of data usage, and 4G where available has often been marketed as a premium product due to the speeds it can provide.
Tariff Consultancy Ltd has published a report that looks at LTE pricing and suggests that we can expect LTE mobile broadband pricing to fall by the end of 2016. As the number of users of LTE increase to a projection of some 250 million in 2016, we may well be looking at 20 Euro per month rather than the current worldwide average of 50 Euro.
The biggest issue in the UK with mobile broadband has been the cost of exceeding any inclusive data allowance, and this will not vanish, currently where LTE is available across Europe the price per GB varies from 0.5 Euro to 9.9 Euro. The premium nature of LTE networks often means though that they include unlimited usage, which is in line with new fixed line broadband networks, as the network is generally built to support a large number of users, and in the first year or two for a new service there is enough spare capacity to easily service unlimited usage.
An interesting idea is that LTE/4G may result in more content services, perhaps as additional subscriptions to make the upgrade to 4G more compelling, and if usage of this service does not count against any bundled allowance will make things more compelling. In the fixed line broadband arena, BT Vision is an example of this.
The UK which is still waiting on its 4G auction to happen and thus will be a late 4G entrant. A side effect of this may be that content providers looking to lever themselves into the next generation of mobile service provision will concentrate on other markets in Europe. The content services will eventually arrive in the UK, but critically for the economy the core content and service provision will most likely be outside the UK.